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Flimsy Pieces and Poor Design Leaves a Lot to be Desired
on July 22, 2013
My five-year-old daughter seems to prefer the smaller dolls for play, so I thought this set would be perfect for her. Size-wise, it doesn't take up very much space and the castle playset comes with everything your child will need to act out stories with the Barbie characters Mariposa and Catania. My daughter has never seen the Barbie Mariposa movies, and it has no impact whatsoever on her enjoyment of the playset. She has fun making up her own stories and moving the small figurines from one part of the castle to another.
For the most part, the set is almost fully put together when you remove it from the box. I appreciated I didn't have to attach any stickers to the playset because I can never get them as perfectly aligned and as smooth as I want. The plastic the pieces are made from is pretty thin, and it might be possible to damage it if you aren't careful when attaching them. Be sure to stick to the instruction's guidelines, because most of the pieces don't come out once you snap them in.
The most difficult part for me was #2 on the instruction, affixing the pink top floor to the white columns. This was easily the most frustrating part for me; everything else was mostly straightforward, though there was confusion over which small decorative piece needed to go on top of the castle so the fairies could spin. Overall, it took maybe twenty or so minutes to get it all put together and the loose pieces into the castle where the box shows them.
Truly, I'm surprised to see that this toy is recommended for ages three and up. There are so many tiny pieces for children to lose, and they could easily be swallowed by a child who has a habit of putting toys in his or her mouth. If you have older children at home as well as younger ones, keep this toy far away from the younger ones! Also, you might think you are missing pieces in the set, but you aren't. The instruction guide says you have to attach some pieces to the bed, but upon closer inspection those pieces were already a part of the two beds. Those additional pieces are shown as separate attachments on the front of the pretty-much-useless pamphlet. Perhaps the biggest disappointment is the lack of a mirror for the upstairs of the castle. The box clearly shows one, so we thought we were missing a piece and I was going to write to Mattel and ask them for it. However, on the instruction guide where it shows all the pieces, no mirror is listed. I don't know if there actually is supposed to be one, or if the instruction guide is wrong about this like it is about some of the other pieces too.
The dolls included with this toy are a bit lower quality than I would have liked. They are barely a step up from the little plastic Barbie dolls that I've seen in the impulse-buy area at the checkout at Target. We bought our daughter one of those dolls once and pieces of her neck started to break off. Of course, this upset my little girl. We glued the doll back together as best we could, but eventually I think the toy was thrown away. Hopefully these dolls will not suffer the same fate; I hate seeing my daughter disappointed because companies don't put much thought into the quality of their toys.
For the spinner at the top of the castle, the dolls fit into them by snapping their chests to the seats. If you look closely, you'll see that the "seats" are shaped exactly like Barbie's chest area, so that's where you snap them in.
Unfortunately, this isn't a must-have toy. It was aggravating to assemble, the quality of the toy leaves plenty to be desired, and the smaller pieces will be easy to lose track of if parents or child are not attentive to them.